Atlas Shrugs

Three months ago, the CEO of Gravity Payments, a Seattle credit card processing firm, announced that all of the firm’s employees would be paid a minimum of $70,000 a year, according to this story. Now, the firm has fallen on hard times, and some of the firm’s “higher valued” employees have quit. One employee who quit said, “He gave raises to people who have the least skills and are the least equipped to do the job, and the ones who were taking on the most didn’t get much of a bump.” Another who quit said, “Now the people who were just clocking in and out were making the same as me. It shackles high performers to less motivated team members.”

The real-world Gravity Payments sounds a lot like the fictional Twentieth Century Motor Company from Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, and while the quotations from the real-world employees who left Gravity Payments do not sound quite as passionate as the fictional John Galt, the message is the same.

Rand’s novel was first published in 1957 and has been continuously in print since. I am not the first to observe that many real-world events since the publication of Rand’s novel closely resemble events in the fictional world she described. Here is another example.

Randall G. Holcombe is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas.
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